Day 299: Notes from the Snow (Part 2)

Today I am sharing some more notes I wrote the day after I returned from our Desolation Wilderness one-nighter in the snow. Consider this a continuation of yesterday’s post:

As I lay there in the middle of the night, hearing the continuous clattering of the kettle drums of the Gods, the howling winds that assaulted our tent continuously, it was as if those winds were saying to me, “This is the true causal power of the Universe in naked display, just for you to witness. Would you like to dance with us? What do you say?”

And I thought, “What the fuck were we thinking being here?” No mortal would have chosen these conditions consciously. It seemed as if we unconsciously put ourselves into this vicinity, this realm of Uncertainty, embracing confusion and disorder–of the most divine and perfect kind.

Despite the fear-factor, in truth, I was in awe, humbled, and aware of witnessing something special. It was as if we touched the Heavens… and lived to tell the tale.

From about 8pm until maybe 5am, the winds were relentless. This primed us to expect the worst for the following day. Yet despite the alarm we experienced, throughout the trip I felt an intuitive sense that everything would be okay. Nature seemed to greet us in a friendly manner all the while. Even the winds were more bark than bite.

Ultimately, things proceeded nicely, and we stayed safe. The tent stayed in one piece despite hours and hours of tumultuous winds. The following morning, we packed up and promptly started the trip back. The snowfall was continuous yet light. We could see in front of us. It was cool, but not uncomfortably so. Despite the fact that the only “trail” we had was the occasional mark of shoe prints (often mostly covered in snow) from our shoes the day before, or from whoever had traversed this area recently as well, we made excellent progress, much quicker on the way down than the way up. My brother’s GPS on his phone helped a lot, as well: we continually referred to it to see where we were in relation to the trail on the map.

A fresh blanket of snow covered the ground. When we were on a hill, I very much enjoyed watching the multitude of snow balls that appeared spontaneously below our shoes and scurried down the hill in eager teams. I found this a friendly sign of the Universe’s benevolence: these snow “buddies” raced down the hill as if playing a game to see who could get there the fastest. It was as if they too were cheering us on, celebrating our imminent victory by taking a quick race down the hill.

The last a thousand feet or so of descent were mostly straight down the hill. We figured that we were much higher than the actual trail (which was impossible to find virtually the whole trip, but showed up on the GPS), and Eagle Lake was within sight below us. We mostly slid down the hill, and this was mostly very fun. Never before have I gone off a trail so much. Yet what choice did we have? The trail was not visible!

While this entire adventure was more risky than the average backpacking trip (camping in a snowstorm without proper snow gear, and unable to physically see the trail because of said snow), we managed the risk, and all worked out fine. I feel expanded and affirmed.

What an adventure it was!

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